Video Blackjack and the Thrill of “Letting it Ride”

By Kent Mullins in Casino
| November 4, 2017 12:00 am PDT
Let it Ride

One game that I like to play when my video poker sessions aren’t going well is video blackjack. Now, the truth of the matter is that these machines have been losing value in the last several years. Where they used to pay out 3/2 on blackjacks, they have recently begun to pay out even money.

But we aren’t here to talk about intelligent long-term betting strategy or breaking Vegas. No, I am here to talk to you about one of the most thrilling gambling experiences of my life. The thrill of “letting it ride.”

The first time I encountered one of these video blackjack machines with the “Let it Ride” option was in 2009. I was hanging out at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino at a row of machines near the Circle Bar.

I threw forty bucks or so in the device with the intention of just playing for a bit while we waited for another group of friends to show up.

The first few hands were pretty typical. I pushed a couple of times, busted twice, and then finally the dealer bust. That’s when an option I hadn’t ever seen before popped up on the screen. I could take my winnings and make another bet for $5, or I could “Let it Ride.”

Well, I was out on the town and feeling like taking some chances, so that’s exactly what I chose. I now had $10 wagered on the next hand and was promptly dealt a blackjack.

Now I could really start to feel the adrenaline going, but I wasn’t ready to give in, so I let it all ride once again. I was dealt a 15, but the dealer bust. Now things were getting exciting, but that little voice in the back of my head started wondering if I should cash out and get back to five dollar bets. Nah…. Let it ride!

Goodness gracious, I just kept on winning!

Hand after hand, I was absolutely on fire. It wasn’t long until I had $160 riding on a single hand of video blackjack. At this point, my friend is beginning to tug on my shirt sleeve asking me to cash out. This wasn’t sustainable; I was going to lose it all, she worried aloud.

I had one more in me though, I could feel it. I hit Let it Ride once more and boom! Blackjack. I was finally convinced to cash out, and the timing worked out well with the rest of our party arriving, giving me the excuse I needed for my cowardice.

I’ve often wondered how far I could have pushed that steak that night.

  • Would I have gotten to $640?
  • Would I have been in the thousands?
  • Could my heart have handled those stakes?

I’ll never know.

Video Blackjack

Video blackjack is a fairly polarizing game. Not everybody feels comfortable playing it, which I understand entirely. I’ve seen those computers piece together 21’s with five or six hits that would have me tempted to come across the table if a human being were dealing. It just feels different when there aren’t physical cards. It feels a bit more predetermined.

But personally, I find the video blackjack experience superior to having an actual dealer. One of the main reasons is that I’ve seen many machines on which the dealer stays on all 17’s. This decreases the house advantage.

There also are lower minimum bets, which I enjoy. Then, of course, there is that Let it Ride button!

When playing at a physical blackjack table, there is no way I would have the guts to keep watching those chips piling up while I increased the bet exponentially hand after hand after hand.

It would be too tempting to grab a few and put them in my pocket. It would be too real to see how much I was risking. Something about that video screen gives me the ability to take chances and get crazy!

Honestly, if your only concern is systematically making money

and you take your gambling seriously,

video blackjack probably is not for you.

As mentioned before, the blackjack payouts have been reduced in most casinos, tipping the odds further in favor of the house. With so many machines paying out 6/5 or even money on blackjacks, it really isn’t a good game to play long-term.

But with that said, when I’m sitting at a bar or maybe a gas station machine, I still love to see if I can recreate my Let it Ride streak from time to time. So what if it’s not as advantageous as other games, every once in a while you have to take some chances, after all, we are gambling, right?

Recently at a bar in Las Vegas, I found one of these machines with the Let it Ride option and gave it a go. I could tell right away that this computer wanted me to be rich. It wanted me to win.

I started with two blackjacks in a row, making $1 bets (I was waiting for friends and wanted to stretch the time). I was brought back to that summer night in 2009 and hit that Let it Ride button with confidence after every single hand. The dealer must have bust five times in a row.

I eventually cashed out at $512. I had reclaimed my former glory! This time I’m not getting hung up on what would have happened if I kept going. Sometimes you just have to trust your gut and go with it.

So, I can’t tell you to get out there and go nuts on a bunch of video blackjack machines. The math probably tells you not to if you can’t find a machine that pays out 3/2 or doesn’t let you keep splitting and/or doubling down. I can’t speak to all of that.

But what I can promise is that if you win a couple of hands and start getting into the groove of letting it ride, you will feel that rush that only a hot machine can give you. You win a hand and feel that sense of relief and happiness. Then you see that Let it Ride…

The inner monologue begins.

  • Does this next one feel like a winner?
  • Do I keep going?

You say yes and feel that adrenaline as the cards are dealt. You make your decision, and the stress levels are at their max. Another winning hand!!!! And the cycle continues.

It’s time to make that fateful decision once again. Only you will know when it’s time to cash out.

And when you do, you’ll never know how much further it could have gone, which may be the cruelest part of all. But there’s only one way ever to find out how many hands you could have won, and that’s to see when your streak finally ends, and you lose.

I’d rather live with a little money in my pocket
and dreams of what could have been, personally.

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